Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Kimono: The Global Adventures of a Fashion Icon

Clothing is a fun and accessible way to show students global connections. Tracing the odyssey by which a “simple” t-shirt was conceived, resourced, designed, woven, sewn, marketed and delivered reveals the far-reaching networks that keep us clothed. Fast fashion and modern technology has considerably sped up this process, but the global fashion industry is ancient. Most of humanity’s earliest overland and maritime trade routes were an attempt to get beautiful cloth and dyestuffs from one r...

Variolation to Vaccine: Smallpox Inoculation Travels East to West and Back Again

The history of the inoculation process itself might help shed light on the roots of controversies we are facing today. In the spring of 1721, England struggled in the grip of a deadly smallpox epidemic. Mandated shutdowns affected businesses, schools, and social venues, health care services were overwhelmed, and the newspapers reported alarming death tolls. Doctors in London seized the opportunity to introduce the public to the concept of inoculation, which had long been practiced in Asia and th...

Feature Article

Hagia Sophia: Bridge Across Time

Istanbul links Asia with Europe. The city is situated on both sides of the Bosphorus, the narrow waterway that separates the two continents. It is roughly 31 kilometers/19.3 miles in length and less than 1 kilometer/ 0.6 miles wide. For millennia, boats have routinely ferried wayfarers across the divide, as they still do today. In the late twentieth century, the city bridged this intercontinental divide. The Bosphorus Bridge opened in 1973, followed by the Conqueror’s Bridge in 1988, named aft...

Curriculum Materials Review

Reflection on the What Does It Mean to Be an American? Curriculum Reviewed by Whit W. Grace

In this review, I focus on how the What Does It Mean to Be an American? (www.whatdoesitmeantobeanamerican.com) curriculum relates to the study of Asia in high schools and colleges. The review focuses on the curriculum’s methodology, the Mineta Legacy Project (Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education [SPICE] curriculum developers were invited to create a companion curriculum to complement the documentary Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story) and the goals and co...

Curriculum Materials Review

What Does It Mean to Be an American? Reviewed by Bruce Stubblefield

The Mineta Legacy Project and Stanford’s SPICE curriculum collaboration, What Does It Mean to Be an American? is an ambitious and sleek set of lessons designed to educate high school and collegiate users on its namesake. The curriculum is the offspring of The Mineta Legacy Project, which was created to honor the work of Norman Mineta (Democrat), who broke barrier after barrier for Asian-Americans by becoming the first Asian-American to serve as a mayor of a major US city, the first Asian-Ameri...

EAA Interview

An EAA Interview with the 2021 Franklin R. Buchanan Prizewinner Rylan Sekiguchi for What Does It Mean to Be an American?

This is our twenty-fifth consecutive interview with winners of the Franklin R. Buchanan Prize, awarded annually to recognize an outstanding pedagogical, instructional, or curriculum publication on Asia designed for K–12 and college undergraduate instructors and students. This year’s winner, for the third time in the award’s history, is Rylan Sekiguchi of the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) for the online curriculum package What Does It Mean to Be an A...

Feature Article

Poetry, Prose, and Political Science

I’ve never read poetry in a political science class before. I have frequently cited this statement as my favorite student evaluation comment ever. I don’t even remember clearly if the statement was meant positively (I think it was!)—but I certainly took it that way. I have long used selected prose and poetry in introductory (first- and second-year) college-level political science classes focused on India or South Asia to convey certain themes and arguments to students. Using literatur...

Feature Article

The Tale of the Heike and Japan’s Cultural Pivot to the Art of War

There are two main reasons to teach The Tale of the Heike, one literary and the other historical. Its subject matter, the Genpei War (1180–1185 CE), marked a pivot in social, cultural, and political life in Japan. This civil war ended four centuries of the Heian period (794–1185), characterized by the cultivated life described so beautifully in Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji (c. 1000 CE). In Murasaki’s time, an aristocracy dominated society, linked by family ties with the emperors ...

Online Supplement

Resources and Chapter Guide for “Contextualizing Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko”

In this bestselling novel, four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family fight to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan, exiled from a home they never knew. Profoundly moving and gracefully told, Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them. Betrayed by her wealthy lover, Sunja finds unexpected salvation when a young tubercular min...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Contextualizing Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko

Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, nominee for the 2017 National Book Award for fiction, is a sweeping historical saga of one family’s experience living as “forever foreigners” in twentieth-century Japan. Despite its heft (496 pages in the hardcover edition), the novel is written in an accessible and engaging style appropriate for both undergraduates and high school students. Moreover, Pachinko is set in a particularly rich era of modern East Asian history, encompassing colonial Korea, World War II...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The Weight of Our Sky

The Weight of Our Sky By Hanna Alkaf New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019 288 pages, ISBN 978-1534426085, Hardcover Reviewed by Zoë McLaughlin The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf centers on Melati, a Malaysian schoolgirl who is a fan of the Beatles and loves going to the cinema with her best friend. But one thing sets Melati apart: she believes she has a djinn inside of her, a creature out of Islamic mythology who regularly shows her scenes of death and pain, compelling her to count and t...

Teaching Resources Essay

Leading a Short-Term Study Trip for Students in Japan

The best way for students to study the history, culture, and livelihoods of another country is through an organized in-country experience. There are various benefits that can accrue through such an endeavor. One can learn about a part of the world away from home while at the same time gaining a deeper appreciation of one’s own culture by looking at it from the outside. Ideally, a student will spend a full semester or year studying abroad, but that is a luxury that many cannot afford in terms o...

Book Review Essay

The Fourth String: A Memoir of Sensei and Me

A young native English speaker goes to Japan to earn money to pay her debts. This is not an unusual beginning for the “foreigner discovers Japan” memoir. But shortly after Janet Pocorobba settles into her new life, it takes a surprising turn when a friend points out an ad in an English-language publication: “Free lesson in shamisen and singing! Take something home with you from your stay in Japan!” (60). In September 1996, Pocorobba responds to that ad and meets Sensei, as she calls the...

Feature Article

Chinese Schools and Students—1985–2015: My Reflections

On my first visit to a Chinese high school in March 1985, I received a tour starting in the courtyard, where a PE class was in session. The students at the front of the rows were doing their jumping jacks with full energy. The students at the back were barely going through the motions. “This is totally familiar,” I said to myself.

Feature Article

Encounters Between Chinese and Jewish Civilizations

Comparison of Chinese and Jewish civilizations does not seem an obvious choice. At first glance, the differences between Chinese and Jewish history, numbers, language, religion, and more are enormous. Yet since 1605, when Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci in Beijing encountered for the first time a Chinese Jew, meetings between Chinese and Jews, as well as thoughts about their similarities, have fascinated the Western mind.1 Belgian– Australian sinologist Pierre Ryckmans called China “the oldes...

EAA Interview, Resources

An EAA Interview with the 2017 Franklin R. Buchanan Prizewinner Anne Prescott for East Asia in the World: An Introduction

This is our twenty-first consecutive interview with the recipient of the AAS Franklin R. Buchanan Prize. This year’s winner is Anne Prescott, who is the Editor of East Asia in the World: An Introduction (Routledge, 2015). The text offers students a fresh, comprehensive, multidisciplinary entry point to East Asia, with an emphasis on the globalizing processes the region is undergoing. A review of East Asia in the World: An Introduction appears on page 62.

Book Review Essay, Resources

East Asia in the World: An Introduction

East Asia in the World: An Introduction, edited by Anne Prescott, should be in every history teacher’s classroom. This slim text somehow manages to cover essential elements of Asian history, culture, economics, and politics, and provides a plethora of extension resources that correlate to each chapter. The text itself is high-level, and some chapters and sections may not be useful in the classroom without modifications, but as a teacher resource, this text is unmatched. As with other texts in ...

Online Supplement

Dreaming, Making, and Breaking Family and Kinship in Contemporary South Korea

While South Korea makes headlines much more frequently nowadays for its vibrant and lucrative popular culture industry, until the 2000s, South Korea was known to outsiders first and foremost as a “family-centric” society. This family-centrism has been the underlying focus of a large number of Korean anthropological studies, covering “education fever,” extended family networks, hierarchical business culture, and ancestor worship. North Korea is also noticed for its family-centrism—namel...

Asia: Experiential Learning, Columns, Resources

Tasting Soy Sauce, Teaching Culture: A Case for Experiential Learning

Imagine teaching a lively class where even the quietest student gets involved. When students sample soy sauces from all over Asia and even the heart of Kentucky, comments like “I didn’t know soy sauce had such flavor” and “I didn’t know we made soy sauce in America” pour out of students’ mouths. Tasting soy sauce is an interactive way of engaging students with Asian cultures and history. My discussion here concerns a course called China: Food and Cultures at the Culinary Institu...

Feature Article

Water, Tradition, and Innovation: Flowing through Japan’s Cultural History

Water, a gift from nature, is an essential part of our daily lives. People use water every day, everywhere, for everything—often without much consideration for its significance in terms of the larger social, cultural, historical, economic, and environmental implications for the twenty-first century. As an island nation, Japan has a deep connection with water in various ways, creating a cultural history where water and life go hand in hand. In Japan, water bridges past and present, tradition an...